Syrian tycoon Makhlouf says security forces are arresting his employees

People walk past the looted premises of cellphone company Syriatel, which is owned by Rami Makhlouf, the cousin of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, in Deraa March 21, 2011. (Reuters)
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Updated 03 May 2020

Syrian tycoon Makhlouf says security forces are arresting his employees

  • Makhlouf said he had been asked to step down from the companies he runs, including Syriatel

AMMAN: Sanctions-hit Syrian tycoon Rami Makhlouf on Sunday said that security forces were arresting employees at his diversified companies in what he said was “mounting pressure” on him days after Syrian authorities asked him to pay hefty taxes.
Makhlouf, a maternal cousin of President Bashar Assad and widely considered part of the president’s inner circle, has a business empire that ranges from telecoms and real estate to construction and oil trading. He played a big role in financing Assad’s war effort, Western officials have said.
“Today pressures began in an unacceptable ways and the security forces, in an inhumane way, are arresting our employees,” Makhlouf said in a video.
The security forces did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Addressing Assad in the video, Makhlouf said he had been asked to step down from the companies he runs, including Syriatel, the country’s main mobile operator and main source of revenue for the sanctions-hit government.
“Did anyone expect the security forces would pounce on Rami Makhlouf’s companies who were their biggest supporters and their patron during the war?” Makhlouf said.
The billionaire has been under US sanctions since 2008 for what Washington calls public corruption and it has since toughened measures against top businessmen who are close to him.
The European Union has also slapped sanctions on Makhlouf since the Syrian conflict began in 2011, accusing him of bankrolling Assad.
He became a hated figure to many pro-democracy protesters who rose up against corruption and the authoritarian rule of Assad in March 2011.


Suicide attack kills 21, injures 44 in central Baghdad market

Updated 2 min 37 sec ago

Suicide attack kills 21, injures 44 in central Baghdad market

  • Police sources said death toll from the attack inside a crowded market in Baghdad’s Tayaran square could rise

BAGHDAD: A suicide attacker using an explosive vest killed 12 people and injured 20 in central Baghdad market, police and medical sources said on Thursday.
Police sources said death toll from the attack inside a crowded market in Baghdad’s Tayaran square could rise as some wounded were in a critical condition.